CULINTRO A Community for Restaurant Professionals

Stacy Shoemaker Rauen - December 2009

It may be a sign of the times, but we are also seeing more intimate restaurants. That goes for nightclubs too. 

   —Stacy Shoemaker Rauen 

How did your career path lead you to becoming Senior Managing Editor of Hospitality Design (HD) magazine?

I somewhat fell into writing about design. After I graduated from Northwestern University with my master’s degree in magazine journalism, 9/11 happened. With the job market in shambles, I waitressed, interned at a fashion magazine, and then got placed through a temp office in the marketing department of Traditional Home magazine. There I worked on the magazine’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House tours, working with the designers and on the event planning. It could have become a fulltime position, but I wanted to get back on the editorial side. So I applied to another magazine at HD’s then-parent company. It wasn’t a good fit, but HR kept my resume on file. When a job opened up at HD, my editor luckily pulled mine, partly because he went to Northwestern as well. That was almost eight years ago.

What do you like most about your job? 

The people. I am so inspired by the people I write about everyday. 

What are the recent trends you are seeing in the restaurant design industry?

On the design side, I really love how designers are re-using materials in really inventive ways to create spaces that feel like they have been there forever, yet modern at the same time. Overall, we are seeing more and more hotels and now restaurants start to embrace sustainability not as a trend, but as must-have, natural part of the design and operations practice, which is fantastic. Designers are also playing with ceilings and walls more, adding unexpected architectural details that are almost art pieces. I am here at the opening of Aria at CityCenter in Las Vegas, and that is definitely the case for the restaurants here (and the casino as well)—from Michael Mina’s American Fish designed by Chris Sheffield with an infinity forest to the Light Group’s Union by Adam D. Tihany with tree-like cutouts as walls.

It may be a sign of the times, but we are also seeing more intimate restaurants. That goes for nightclubs too. Seems everyone is scaling down a bit. And hotels are also furthering blurring the line between lobbies and restaurants and bars, making them all one in the same.
hree and half years

What trends are you glad to see go away?

Minimalism for minimalism’s sake.

What has been the most amazing design you’ve seen in a restaurant this year internationally and nationwide?

There are just too many restaurants that I like for too many different reasons, so I plead the fifth. The good thing is that even in this economy, there’s no lack of creativity!

When you visit New York (I realize you are moving here next month), what restaurants do you enjoy visiting most?

Double Crown—for its location, food, and design with a drink after at Madame Geneva bar. Sushi restaurant Cube 63—best kept BYOB secret in New York. There’s something about Pastis that never gets old. And I really love the lobby bar and restaurant in the new Crosby Hotel.  

How does Culintro help the hospitality design industry?

Like HD, Culintro is a connector. The one thing I have learned is that this industry is all about the relationships.

For up and coming designers/architects, what advice could you give them on making it in the industry?

Obviously you are good at the creative side. But while working for a firm, try to learn as much as possible about the business of running a firm and the business of hospitality. It will be hugely beneficial down the line.